Please do not confuse with Arras in Albania, for other uses see Arras (disambiguation)


Arras les places .jpg
Aerial view of Arras and the Places
Coat of arms of Arras
Arras is located in France
Country France
Region Nord-Pas-de-Calais
Department Pas-de-Calais
Arrondissement Arras
Canton Chef-lieu of 3 cantons
Intercommunality Communauté urbaine d'Arras
Mayor Jean-Marie Vanlerenberghe
Elevation 52–99 m (171–325 ft)
(avg. 72 m/236 ft)
Land area1 11.63 km2 (4.49 sq mi)
Population2 48,000  (2007)
 - Density 4,127 /km2 (10,690 /sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 62041/ 62000
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Coordinates: 50°17′23″N 2°46′51″E / 50.2897222222°N 2.78083333333°E / 50.2897222222; 2.78083333333

Arras (Dutch: Atrecht) is the capital of the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. The historic centre of the Artois region, its local speech is characterized as a Picard dialect. Unlike many French words, the final "s" in the name should be pronounced.




Arras was founded on the hill of Baudimont by the Belgic tribe of the Atrebates, who named it Nemetacum or Nemetocenna in reference to a nemeton (sacred grove) that probably existed there. It was later renamed Atrebatum by the Romans, under whom it became an important garrison town.[1][2]

Medieval and early modern period

The townspeople were converted to Christianity in the late 4th century by Saint Diogenes, who was killed in 410 during a barbarian attack on the town. Around 130 years later, St. Vedast (also known as St. Vaast) established an episcopal see in the town and a monastic community, which developed during the Carolingian period into the immensely wealthy Benedictine Abbey of St. Vaast. The modern town of Arras initially grew up around the abbey as a grain market. Both town and abbey suffered during the 9th century from the attacks of the Vikings, who later settled to the west in Normandy. The abbey revived its strength in the 11th century and played an important role in the development of medieval painting, successfully synthesising the artistic styles of Carolingian, Ottonian and English art.[3]

In 1025 a Catholic council was held at Arras against certain Manichaean (dualistic) heretics who rejected the sacraments of the Church. In 1097, two councils, presided over by Lambert of Arras, dealt with questions concerning monasteries and persons consecrated to God. In this time, Arras became an important cultural center, especially for the group of poets who came to be known as trouvères. One particular society of such poets was later called the Puy d'Arras.

The town was granted a commercial charter by the French crown in 1180 and became an internationally important location for banking and trade. The wool industry of Arras, established in the 4th century, became of great importance during the Middle Ages. By the 14th century it had gained renown and considerable wealth from the cloth and wool industry, and was particularly well known for its production of fine tapestries—so much so that in English and Italian the word "arras" (in Italian, "arazzi") was adopted to refer to tapestries in general.[3] The patronage of wealthy cloth merchants ensured that the town became an important cultural centre, with major figures such as the poet Jean Bodel and the troubadour Adam de la Halle making their homes in Arras.

The ownership of the town was, however, repeatedly disputed along with the rest of Artois. During the Middle Ages, possession of Arras passed to a variety of feudal rulers and fiefs, including the County of Flanders, the Duchy of Burgundy, the Spanish branch of the House of Habsburg and the French crown. The town was the site of the Congress of Arras in 1435, an unsuccessful attempt to end the Hundred Years' War that resulted in the Burgundians breaking their alliance with the English. After the death of Duke Charles the Bold of Burgundy in 1477, King Louis XI of France took control of Arras but the town's inhabitants, still loyal to the Burgundians, expelled the French. This prompted Louis XI to besiege Arras in person and, after taking it by assault, he had the town's walls razed and its inhabitants expelled, to be replaced by more loyal subjects from other parts of France. In a bid to erase the town's identity completely, Louis renamed it temporarily to Franchise. In 1482, the Peace of Arras was signed in the town to end a war between Louis XI and Maximilian I of Austria; ten years later, the town was ceded to Maximilian and was bequeathed to the Spanish Habsburgs as part of the Spanish Netherlands.[4][5]

The Union of Atrecht (the Dutch name for Arras) was signed here in January 1579 by the Catholic principalities of the Low Countries that remained loyal to king Philip II of Habsburg; it provoked the declaration of the Union of Utrecht later the same month.

Grand Place of Arras in February 1919

Modern period

During the First World War, Arras was near the front and a long series of battles fought nearby are known as the Battle of Arras. A series of medieval tunnels beneath the city, linked and greatly expanded by the New Zealand Tunnelling Company, became a decisive factor in the British forces holding the city.[6] The city, however, was heavily damaged and had to be rebuilt after the war. In the Second World War, during the invasion of France in May 1940, the town was the focus of a major British counter attack. The town was occupied by the Germans and 240 suspected French Resistance members were executed in the Arras citadel.

In September 1993 Ipswich and Arras became twin towns, and a square in the new Ipswich Buttermarket development was named Arras Square to mark the relationship.[7]

Main sights

Lion d'Arras
The town hall and its belfry
Market in the Place des Héros

The centre of the town is marked by two large squares, the Grande Place and the Place des Héros, also called the Petite Place. These are surrounded by buildings largely restored to their pre-war World War I conditions. Most notable are the Gothic town hall (rebuilt in a slightly less grandiose style after the war) and the 19th-century cathedral.

The original cathedral of Arras, constructed between 1030 and 1396, was one of the most beautiful Gothic structures in northern France. It was destroyed in the French Revolution.

Many of Arras's most notable structures, including the museum and several government buildings, occupy the site of the old Abbaye de Saint-Vaast. The abbey's church was demolished and rebuilt in fashionable classical style in 1833, and now serves as the town's cathedral. The design was chosen by the one-time Abbot of St Vaast, the Cardinal de Rohan, and is stark in its simplicity, employing a vast number of perpendicular angles. There is a fine collection of statuary within the church and it houses a number of religious relics.

Two buildings in Arras are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

The Vimy Memorial is a memorial just north of the town honouring a major World War I battle, the Battle of Vimy Ridge, which marked the first time Canada fielded an entire army of her own. Four Canadian divisions fought there on Easter weekend 1917. The Battle of Vimy Ridge was part of the broader Allied offensive in April known as the Battle of Arras. Vimy was the only victory the Allies would enjoy during their 1917 spring offensive. The Basilica of Notre Dame de Lorette cemetery, overlooking the nearby village of Ablain-Saint-Nazaire, likewise stands before one of France's largest World War I necropolises. Part of an extensive network of tunnels dug in World War I by British Empire soldiers can be visited at the Carrière Wellington museum in the suburbs.

Arras holds a Christmas Market every year from 27 November – 24 December. Around 60 exhibitors offer a wide selection of arts and crafts, as well as local delicacies like chocolate rats, Atrébate beer and Coeurs d'Arras – heart-shaped biscuits which come in two flavours; ginger and cheese. Entertainment includes cooking lessons with chefs, craft demonstrations, a merry-go-round and heated shelters. It also offers also native products from Vietnam, Morocco, Indonesia, Africa and gourmet regional specialities from different parts of France: Auvergne, Savoie, Holland, South-Western France and Nord-Pas-de-Calais.[8]

The Main Square Festival is held in Citadelle Vauban, attracting tens of thousands of attendees and playing host to major acts such as The Chemical Brothers, Coldplay and The Black Eyed Peas.

Points of interest


The position of Arras

The Gare d'Arras railway station is served by a purpose-built branch of the LGV Nord high speed railway, with regular TGV services to Paris. There are also regular trains to Lille, Amiens, Dunkerque and several regional destinations. The A1 motorway connects Arras with Lille and Paris, the A26 with Calais and Reims.

Notable people

Arras was one of the centers of trouvère poetry, and trouvères from Arras include:

Arras was the birthplace of:

See also


  1. ^ "Arras". Northern France and the Paris Region, pp. 120–122. Michelin Travel Publications, 2006. ISBN 206711928
  2. ^ "Arras." Concise Dictionary of World Place-Names. John Everett-Heath. Oxford University Press 2005.
  3. ^ a b "Arras." Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages. Ed. André Vauchez.
  4. ^ "Arras." Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary. (2007).
  5. ^ "Arras." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008.
  6. ^ Johnson, Matt (20 April 2011). "Legacy of the Kiwi tunnellers". Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  7. ^ "Ipswich – Arras". Ipswich Borough Council. Retrieved 6 May 2008. 
  8. ^

External links

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  • Arras — Arras …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Arras FA — Arras Football Arras Football Généralités Nom complet Arras Football …   Wikipédia en Français

  • ARRAS — Chef lieu du Pas de Calais, Arras était, en 1990, une agglomération de 79 600 habitants. Après un passé glorieux, Arras a connu une certaine stagnation. Très vieille ville, établie sur un des sites préhistoriques les plus intéressants de la… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Arras — Ar ras, n. [From Arras the capital of Artois, in the French Netherlands.] Tapestry; a rich figured fabric; especially, a screen or hangings of heavy cloth with interwoven figures. [1913 Webster] Stateliest couches, with rich arras spread. Cowper …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Arras — Surtout porté dans les Hautes Pyrénées, désigne celui qui est originaire de la commune d Arras en Lavedan (65) ou d un hameau portant un nom similaire. Ailleurs en France, on pensera aussi aux communes d Arras dans le Pas de Calais et dans l… …   Noms de famille

  • arras — (Del lat. arrhae o arrhăbo, y estos del gr. ἀρραβών). 1. f. pl. Cosa que se da como prenda o señal en algún contrato o concierto. 2. Conjunto de las trece monedas que, al celebrarse el matrimonio religioso, sirven como símbolo de entrega, pasando …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • Arras — Arras,   niederländisch Ạtrecht [ xt], Stadt in Frankreich, Verwaltungssitz des Départements Pas de Calais, 43 600 Einwohner;   Wirtschaft:   katholischer Bischofssitz; regionales Handelszentrum mit Baugewerbe, Metall , Textil und… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • arras — (n.) pictured tapestry, late 14c., from Anglo Fr. draps d arras, from Arras, city in France where pictured tapestries were made, from L. Atrebates, name of a tribe of the Belgae who inhabited the Artois region; probably lit. inhabitants, from a… …   Etymology dictionary

  • arras — (plural) sustantivo femenino 1. Conjunto de las trece monedas que tradicionalmente el hombre entrega a la mujer en la celebración del matrimonio como símbolo del contrato: El novio entregó las arras a la novia. 2. Prenda que se da en un contrato… …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • Arras — Ar ras, v. t. To furnish with an arras. Chapman. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Arras [1] — Arras (Atr echt), 1) Bezirk im französischen Departement Pas de Calais; 2) Hauptstadt hier u. des Departements, an der schiffbaren Scarpe, in Sümpfen, Festung 3. Ranges, mit 25,000 Ew.; die Werke nach alter Art mit 10 Bastions angelegt, von… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

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